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Flieger- und Fliegerabwehr Truppen / Troupes d'Aviation Suisse / Truppe d'aviazone svizzere
Aviation and Antaircraft Troops
till 31-12-95
Schweizer Luftwaffe / Forces Aériennes Suisse / Forze aeree svizzere
Swiss Air Force
- from 01-01-96

    Credit:  Roundels of the world
Roundel
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Details written in blue without underline are subject to confirmation
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                                        Last update 24-04-2019

FIRST LINE SQUADRONS
 
Cold war structure

Swiss military aviation - Aviation troops - Fliegertruppen/Troupes d'Aviation/Truppe d'aviazione - was part of the Army till 31-12-95. It was divided into a professional and a militia structure.
Squadrons (Fliegerstaffel/Escadrille d'Aviation) were manned by pilots only, they didn't own aircraft. Professional pilots pilots were grouped for administrative purpose under the
Surveillance Wing (Überwachungsgeschwader/Escadre de Surveillance); militia Squadrons were manned by reserve pilots only. Both, professional and militia Squadrons, were to be put under the orders of geograpically distributed Aviation Regiments (Fliegerregiment/Régiment Aviation) during an emergency time.

Operational airports were run by the Federal Office of Military airports (Bundesamt für Militärflugplätze/
Office fédéral des aérodromes militaires/Ufficio federale degli aerodromi militari) till 31-12-95. Local airport unit was the Air Base Section (Flugplatzabteilung).

Aircrafts were available during the whole of the year as needed for individual training of each professional and militia pilot at active air bases; they were rotated between flying operation and operational storage to keep an even number of flying hours for the whole fleet and were transferred (if necessary) to the Squadron's war-time base during the yearly pilots and ground personnel rehearsal courses (Wiederholungskurs/Cours de Répétion)
and, of course, during emergency times.

   Bases were maintained
by
a civilian professional
   operation/maintenance organisation -
   Federal Office for Airports
(
Bundesamt
   für Militärflugplätze/
Office fédéral des
  
aérodromes militaires till 31-12-95.
   
Federal Office for Air Force Plants (Bundesamt für
   Betriebe der Luftwaffe from 01-01-96).

   Active bases used by Northrop F-5s were 
Payerne,
  
 Dübendorf, Meiringen, Buochs, Sion, Alpnach;
   wartime bases were Turtmann, Interlaken, Mollis.


Command Structure
Command strurcture was composed of Aviation Regiments (Fiegerregiment/Régiment d'Aviation) with attached mixed fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance units.

In 1980 there were following Tiger equipped Aviation Squadrons, each with 12 aircrafts plus 1 or 2 reserves, grouped as follows:
Northrop F-5E 
 - Aviation Regiment 1       - Squadron 18           - Payerne AB
                      - Aviation 
Regiment 4       - Squadron 6             - Sion AB
                      - Aviation 
Regiment 6       - Squadron 1             - Turtmann AB
                      - Aviation Regiment 9       - Squadron 11 and 19 - Alpnach AB
                      - Aviation Regiment 13     - Squadron 8  and 13  - Meiringen AB
Northrop F-5F  - Headquarters Aviation Brigade 31 - Squadron 14 - Dübendorf AB

A reorganisation in 1990 regrouped all Squadrons into four Regiments according to their speciality:
               Aviation Regiment 1 for reconnaissance fighters (Mirage IIRS)
               Aviation Regiment 2 (Mirage IIIS, F-5E) for air defence fighters

               Aviation Regiment 3 for fighter-bombers (Hunter)
               Aviation Regiment 4 for air transport helicopters (Alouette III, Super Puma).

Post cold war reorganisation
The Aviation Troops became a separate organisation - Luftwaffe - under the first post cold war reorganisation, the "Armed Forces Reform 95 (Armée 95)", effective 01-01-96.

Squadrons
(Fliegerstaffel/Escadrille d'Aviation) had still no own aircraft; they remained formed by pilots.

No Tiger Squadron was provisionally disbanded at the time; Aviation Regiments were replaced by Aviation Wings (Fliegergeschwader/Escadre d'Aviation); the Surveillance Wing was reorganised on 01-01-06 into the Professional Airmen Corps (Berufsfliegerkorps/Corps des Aviateurs Professionnels).

Surveillance Wing professional pilots manned Squadrons 8 and 11 remained based at Dübendorf AB during peace-time and Squadron 1 at Payerne AB; Tiger conversion took place on Northrop F-5F.

Operation of military airports was handed over to the new Air Force Logistics Command (Bundesamt für Betriebe der Luftwaffe/Office Fédéral des exploitations des Forces aériennes) from 01-01-96.

Wartime stationing was foreseen as follows:
               Aviation Wing   1 : Payerne AB     - Squadron 13
               Aviation Wing   3 : Turtmann AB   - Squadrons 1 and 6
               Aviation Wing   4 : Sion AB          - Squadron 18
               Aviation Wing 11 : Mollis AB        - Squadron 19
               Aviation Wing 13 : Meiringen AB   - Squadrons 8 and 11


Most important change was the re-equipment by the late 90's of 
two Squadrons (Nr 11 and 18) with McDonnell F/A-18s.

A second, deeper, restructuration
under the "Armée XXI" name took place on 01-01-04. It saw the reduction of active jet fighters bases to three, closure of all wartime bases, the disbandment of Aviation Wing 1, 3 and 4 and of Aviation Squadron 1 (professional pilots only flying McConnell F-18s as fighters) and the creation of Air Base Commands to which the Squadrons were assigned.
Only one militia Tiger Squadron (
combined with one McDonnell F/A-18 equipped Squadron) remained assigned to each of the three Air Base Commands:
              
Air Base Command 11 : Payerne AB    - Squadron 6
              
Air Base Command 13 : Meiringen AB  - Squadron 8
              Air Base Command 14 : Sion AB         - Squadron 19, Headquarters only at Payerne AB, operations from Sion AB
Some bases were kept as "sleeping" bases,  like Buochs

The remaining Squadrons serve under the orders of "Fliegerkommando 31" (Aviation Command 31), a training unit; some of the Tigers were on the nose the badge of the command.

==============================================================
 
HISTORY OF NORTHROP F-5 EQUIPPED SQUADRONS


Handover of sufficent Northrop F-5s from the first batch enabled the start of pilots' conversion from Hawker Hunter Mk.58, after having received an air-to-air combat course on the "old" fighter, starting with two full time pilots units. Official ceremony for their handover to the troops took place at Meiringen AB on 30-10-79.

Militia units followed, two with aircrafts from the first and three from the second batch. Individual militia pilots training (eight days per year) were flown from peacetime bases (Dübendorf AB, Payerne AB, Meiringen AB, Sion AB plus Emmen AB) while refresher courses (also for ground crews) took place where the Squadrons were to be based in case of war.

Aviation Squadron 1   /  Fiegerstaffel 1 - Initially a militia pilots unit, later a professional pilots unit.


    
        
   Official badge           Painted on aircraft nose

The unit, originally manned by reservists (equipped with Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A), based at Raron AB changed to a full time unit, moving to its new wartime base, Turtmann AB. Here it converted converted to the Northrop F-5E in 1983. Ground-attack duty was changed to air-to-air combat with the arrival of the new fighter. Peacetime training base was Dübendorf AB.

By 1990 it was attached to the Aviation Regiment 6 together with Squadron 21 flying Hawker Hunter Mk58/58A.

The Squadron participated to the 1992/1993 tests with bombs and AGM-65B Maverick in order to operate the Tiger in ground attack as a secondary role.

Its main role was at the end of the '90s to train young pilots on fast jets, preparing them for the transition to the McDonnell F/A18.

             Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E J-3063 seen on 03-10-08; badges were worn for a long time after the units disbandment

   Photo: Clément Dominik
Northrop F-5E pushed out of a cavern at Turmann AB


Turtmann AB was closed on 14-03-03 and Squadron 1 was officially disbanded at the end of the year. It was the last Swiss full-time pilots unit flying Tigers.

                 Photo: Joop de Groot
Rarely seen Squadron 1 badge on Northrop J-3210 at Dübendorf AB on 25-08-89 with red underbelly
tank and red wingtip Sidewinder.

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Aviation Squadron 6 / Escadrille d'aviation 6  -  Militia pilots unit


                           
               Official badge     -   Painted on nose       -      Low visibility, behind cabin

It is one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve unit, together with Squadron 8 and 19.

Only Tiger unit crewed mainly by French-speaking pilots started conversion from Hawker Hunter Mk.58 in 1985 at Sion AB, where it remained till 1994

By 1990 it was attached to the Aviation Regiment 4 together with a detachment of Mirage IIIRS of Squadron 10 until its 1994 refresher course, moving to Turtmann AB in 1995, remaing there until 2003; in the year 2000 it was attached to the Aviation Wing 11
.

Closure of Turtmann AB on 14-03-03 meant relocation to Payerne AB (only as administrative Headquarters and for the annual rehearsal course) under the Aviation Wing 11; it was  often deployed to other bases for training periods.

Nine F-5E with pilots of the Squadron participated to an exercise involving McDonnel Douglas 
F-18Cs and French Mirage 2000s at the end of November 2005.
Operation Alpa Eco 11 (protection of the WEF in Davos) the participation of six pilots of the Squadron. They flew Live Identification missions.


The 6ème Escadrille protected during its 2007 and 2011 rehearsal courses the no-fly zone around the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, being based at Sion AB.


     Photo: Swiss AF
This photo shows two active Sidewinders armed F-5E flown by Squadron 6 pilots, in  company of an Aviation Squadron 18 McConnell F/A-18C, on one of the WEFs area protection training flights.

Between 
01-06-17 till 19-05-17 the unit was active from Payerne, remaing one of the last 2 Squadron (together with Squadron 19) as a service Squadron.
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       Aviation Squadron 8  / Fiegerstaffel 8  Vandalo  -  Militia pilots unit
 Official badge       
Painted on nose

It was one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve/militia units, together with Squadron 6 and 19.

Formerly Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A equipped, it started its Tiger training on 22-08-80 at Payerne AB; was peace- and wartime based at Meiringen AB from 1981, part of Aviation Regiment 13, with an area protection/policing task.

The unit participated to the exercice "Tatauto" on 24-03-82; Tigers landed on the emergency highway strip near Münsingen.

Unsuccessful Tiger fighter-bomber trials in 1992/1993 were flown by its pilots, but the Squadron kept ground attack with cannons as secondary task. Its pilots participated to Norka 91 and Norka 94 exercises at RAF Waddington (UK).

The Squadron reported since 01-11-97 (part the first Air Force reorganisation) to the Flugplatzkommando 13 (Air Base Comand 13)/Fliegergeschwader 13 (Air Wing 13) at Meiringen AB together with Fliegerstaffel 11 (Air Squadron 11) on McDonnellDouglas F-18.


       Photo: Tom Brinckman
     Northrop F-5E J-3047 seen landing at Meiringen AB on 27-04-04


A capacity demonstration in air-to-ground cannon firings by 8 aircraft was shown at the Axalp range in October 2002/06/07/08/09/10 and 2012.
 
The year 2005 saw the start of another important operation, flying from its home base Meiringen, during the January yearly refresher course: no-fly area enforcement for the WEF meeting at Davos repeated in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2016 end  of January, begin February.

Between 09-01-17 and 27-01-17 
and from 06-03-17 till 24-03-17 the Squadron was active from Meiringen for its last repetition course (Wiederholungskurs); the unit disbanded on 31-12-17.

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Aviation Squadron 11 / Fiegerstaffel 11    -  Professional pilots unit

First version:                                                Second version:
             
Official badge  /  Painted on aircrafts   -  Official badge  /  Painted on aircrafts
Peace-time based at Dübendorf, it followed Squadron 18 in July 1979 as the second unit to re-equip from Hawker Hunter Mk.58/58A to the Northrop F-5E; combat ready status was officially declared on 30-10-79. Each of its pilots had flown an average of 80 hours by end 1979.
Its wartime base was Alpnach AB, attached to Aviation Regiment 9 together with Squadron 19, till 1994 when, in 1995,  it was changed to Meiringen AB due to closure of Alpnach AB for jets.
An unusual exercise took place on 24-03-82, when its pilots landed Tigers the emergency highway strip near Münsingen.

       Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5Es lined up at Dübendorf on 28-08-83, still with black nose and first version badge.

Photo: unknown    
                          Northrop F-5E J-3092 seen at Sion AB on 28-10-04 with second version badge.

The Squadron remained based at Meiringen AB, with training detachments at Dübendorf AB, transitioning in 1999 to the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D. Dübendorf was no-more used since 2005 due to closure of the Air Base.

It has been honorary member of the NATO Tiger association since 1981, becoming full member on 31-08-04.

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           Aviation Squadron 13Fiegerstaffel 13  Eagle  -  Militia pilots unit
Official badge       Painted on nose
   
Crewed by German speaking pilots it was Meiringen AB wartime based when its pilots converted from de Havilland Venom Mk.4 fighter-bombers to Tiger fighters in 1984.

It participated on 15-10-85 to the second edition of exercise "Tauto" on the highway strip near Flums.

Peacetime attachment in 1990 was the Aviation Regiment 13 at Meiringen AB in company with the Squadron 8, also flying the Northrop F-5E.

The Squadron moved to Payerne AB in 1995 
but was disbanded after its last rehearsal course (24-03 till 04-04-03), held at Meiringen AB.

      Photo: unknown
Northrop F-5E J-3075 entering its protected hangarette at Turtmann AB on 15-04-02

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        Aviation Squadron 18 / Fiegerstaffel 18  -  Professional pilots unit
Official badge    
Painted on nose

This was the first unit to convert on Tigers; the first Swiss produced Northrop F-5E landed at Payerne AB, its home base, on 24-01-79 to start the conversion of eight of fourteen pilots and four instructors of this unit; conversion started on 26-02-79 and was completed end May 1979. The Squadron was declared officially combat ready on 30-10-79. Each of its pilots had flown an average of 105 hours by the end of 1979.

Detachments were operated from Sion AB for training duties, while pilots participated to an unusual exercise near Münsingen when they landed on an emergency highway strip on 24-03-82.

It was attached in 1990 to the Aviation Regiment 2 at Payerne (till 1994), together with Mirage IIIS equipped Squadron 17 and a detachment of Mirage IIIRS of the Squadron 17.

Photo: unknown    
                          Northrop F-5E J-3006 at Emmen in May 1993 showing the Squadron 18 badge

Sion AB was its the home airport from 1995 till 1997; five McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C were incorporated spring 1998, meaning the end
of the units Tiger operation.

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        Aviation Squadron 19 / Fiegerstaffel 19   /  Militia pilots unit
  Official badge        Painted on nose

It was one of the three remaining Northrop F-5E reserve unit, together with Squadron 6 and 8.

First non-professional pilots Squadron based at Alpnach AB in a four weeks lasting course. Its pilots  started conversion from Hakwer Hunter Mk.58 in April 1980; there were 14 pilots and 4 pilot-instructors. It reported to the Aviation Regiment 9 at Alpnach AB, together with Squadron 13 also flying the Northrop F-5E.

P
ilots of the Squadron have participated to SAKA operations at Decimomannu AB (Italy) in 1985 and 1989.

Upon closure to jet operations of Alpnach AB the end of 1995 (last Tiger took-off 25-09-95) the unit was transferred to Mollis AB (reporting to Aviation Wing 11)  and again transferred to Buochs AB in 2000 upon closure of Mollis AB
.

                            Photo: Joop de Groop
The last Swiss Northrop F-5E, with Squadron 19 badge on the right side, seen at Mollis AB on 23-09-98.

Status of Buochs AB was changed to "sleeping base" in March 2003; the Squadron's Headquarter was transferred to Payerne AB in 2004 for peace-time duties but deployed to Sion AB between 2004 and 2017 for operational and wartime purposes, reporting to Aviation Wing 14. Here they holding their first rehealsal course (11th till 29-10-04) in conjunction with McConnell F/A-18 of the Aviation Squadron 18.

Onboard Eelectronic Warfare operators were attached to the unit during the rehearsal courses 1997/98, allowing the use of Northrop F-5F for ECM duties by this unit.

The 2005 rehearsal course was in preparation for its new task: airspace protection over the
World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

Finally, the 2006 rehearsal course was utilised mainly in protection of the WEF from Sion AB between January 16th and February 3rd. The Squadron was entrusted with the same task during the 2009 edition of the Forum, between 21-01-09 and 01-02-09, and in 2012, between 25-01-12 till 29-01-12. During operation Sion 33 12 Northrop F-5E (based at Sion) starting 11-03-13 partecipated to the event. Between 09-01-17 and 27-01-17 the Squadron was active from Sion but all operational tasks were exclusively flown by McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/Ds.


             Photo: Swiss AF
The Squadron commemorated its seventy fifth anniversary in June 2013 with a special tail painting, seen here, on Northrop F-5E J-3038 together with two unmarked arcrafts.
                                                                                                                                                                       
 Photo: Swiss Air Force

At Wiederholungskurs 2015
(Repetition course 2015) 9 Northrop F-5E were seen (amongst which two Patrouille Suisse coloured) and 1 Northrop F-5F
used as a single-seater;
Wiederholungskurs 2017 Squadron (Repetition course 2017) was programmed between 09 and 27-01-17.

It remains one of the two remaing Northrop F-5s as a service Squadrons from 2018, based at Emmen AB.

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ECM AND TARGET TOWING


The Electronic Aviation Squadron 24/Elektronische Fiegerstaffel 24 operated from Emmen AB till 1994 in the ECM (and training) role the Hawker Hunter T.66. This unit was disbanded, following the new Armee 1995 concept; duties passed on to the Squadron 12.

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  Aviation Target Squadron 12Zielflugstaffel 12  -  Professional ECM and Target Tug operators
Official badge

Target Towing were performed from Emmen AB by 12 Pilatus PC-9
, especially for the Army's anti-aircraft artillery units. Militia pilots came from Squadrons 6, 8 and 19.

Underbelly
Saab MBV-2S Dart Target, modified to tow it for live air-to-air cannons shooting was tested on serial J-3001, and operations with three Northrop F-5E, were introduced in 1994, though one Hunter T.66 was seen in 1994 at Payerne AB.

A new Group (within the Squadron) was formed as ECM warfare had quite a different role from the original Target Tug activties:

     Air Force Electronic Warfare Group -  Professional ECM operators
Official badge   Painted on F-5F nose.

The badge was similar to the Squadron 24's one, except for the inscription and the Swiss badge.


Three Northrop F-5F (serials J-3210, J-3211, J-3212) were intoduced for ECM training from 1998 with Ericson Vista 5 ECM pod, flying with the unit till 1999, when ECM training duties were entrusted to Squadron 16.


                        Photo: milspotters.nl

Unfortunately complete, confirmed, details of
ECM operators' Group history are not available.


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    Training Squadron 16Ausbildungstaffel 16   -  Militia pilots unit/professional ECM operators
Official badge

Formerly equipped with GAMD Mirage IIIS it received new tasks from the year 2000, when these fighters had been retired.

Equipped initially with Northrop F-5E from 2000 to 2002 and based at Payerne AB ; transferred to Sion AB thereafter and, re-equipped with
 Northrop F-5F, it was responsible for Initial Jet Training, Target Towing, Electronic Warfare and Dissimilar Air Combat Training for local McDonnell F/A-18 pilots. Disestablishment came at the end of 2007, when the Pilatus PC-21 advanced trainer was introduced.

   Photo: Don Corleone
Northrop F-5F J-3210 with Vista 5 ECM underwing, wing-tip ACMI pod, and badge under the left wing,s tated as taken at Payerne AB on 27-04-10. This the only Northrop F-5F reported with a badge, last seen
on 28-04-04 at Payerne. Other pictures dated 04-09-04 and -05-08 and 18-03-09 show the aircraft without badge.

Of note under-cockpit 12 Squadron Badge a long time after the unit was disbanded.
At least 1 Northrop F-5F (serial J-3210) was seen since at least 2001 till at least 27-04-10 during the repetition course at Meiringen AB with badge of this unit under the forward cockpit and the Ericson Vista 5 ECM pod on the left wing. The badge was kept long after the unit was disbanded.

The ECM equipped Tiger two-seaters were last reported:
J-3210 on 06-05-15 at Emmen, J-3211 on -08-16 Emmen, J-3212 on 25-01-17 Sion.
Operations with the Northrop F-5 were terminated on 31-12-18.

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AEROBATIC TEAM

              Patrouille Suisse  -  Professional pilots unit  

 Official badge           
Name painted behind the cockpit

An unofficial acrobatic team had operated for a number of years as a two/three-ship F-5E team on an ad-hoc basis, performing for example at RAF Fairford meeting in 1991 as "Heidi Pair" with three aircrafts, unfortunately without special markings.
                          
The official team "Patrouille Suisse" had operated Hawker Hunter Mk.58 aircrafts until retirement of the venerable fighter; the Northrop F-5E was chosen as a successor starting from 1995. Twelve aircrafts received a special red/white colour scheme but only six were/are operated at a time, while a smoke unit was also built in 1996 in the airframes.

Acrobatic pilots training started in March 1995, first exhibition at an airshow was on 10-06-95 abroad, at San Javier AB (Spain).

Initially based at Emmen AB (later at Payerne AB) has the role to promote Switzerland and its Air Force domestically and internationally. Pilots fly with the team as a "second job". New colours were shown to the publicum on 06-03-95.


                      Photo: RUAG
       In-flight view of three Patrouille Suisse aircrafts; of note the unusual grey nose of the first aircraft.

The team celebrates all 5 years its existence, respectively on 22-08-99/04/09/14/19 by painting the years of existence behind the cockpit of the Tigers, replacing the inscription "patrouille suisse".

         
                                                    
Patrouille Suisse exhibited with great success till now at air-shows in Austria (2000/03/05/11), Belgium (1996/2000/06/09), Denmark (1996/2007/12), Finland (2012), France (1995/96/99/2000/08/09), Germany (2002/04/06/08/09/10), Hungary (2010), Ireland (2015), Italy (1995/99/2000), the Netherlands (1996/99/2006/2018), Norway (2009/2012), Poland (2011), Spain (1995/2005/06), UK (1995/96/99/2000/04/06/07/08/12/14).

Unfortunately the life of the team is menaced, due to the withdrawal from use of the Northopr F-5E and to budget savings. By 2016 the government informed that the Patouille will operate till the end of the Tiger operation.
First  Patrouille Suisse loss happened on 09-08-16 due to a collision with another Patrouille Suisse F-5E Leeuwarden; the damaged second one could land safely on the Base.

Dicovery of cracks on nine aircrafts stopped temporarely acrobatic training, but show performances started again on 16-06-16; the Patrouille Suisse had restarted to train mid 2016 after some aircrafts were repaired, using also two normal, grey painted Tigers.

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 Group for armament services - Flighttests / Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste (GRD) - Flugversuche

 This was the Swiss Air Force Research and Development Test Unit (a civilian organisation)
Based at Emmen AB,It participated intensively to the selection programm of the Northrop F-5 both in USA and in Switzerland; four pilots of the group had converted to the Northrop F-5 to conduct trials by end of 1979.

One single-seater (J-3001) was constantly at the units disposal till 1998, when it was transferred to operational duties
; serial J-3097 has also been operated.





Northrop F-5E J-3001 testing application of four AIM-9 Sidewinder underwings and on wingtips.


Photo: Eidgenössische Flugzeugwerk-Emmen (F+W Emmen)










  Photo: F+W Emmen
Shown above is one of several other trials - here probably testing an unknown target; of note underbelly camera.


Later it tested modifications for the use of Electronic Warfare systems, Maverick air-to-ground missile, a smoke generating system for the Patrouille Suisse, a different target as well as several other systems.

                    
Photo: Samuel Berger
                
Northrop F-5E J-3001 taxies back in Meiringen with underbelly Saab MBV-2S target in Februar 1997.

   Photo: unknown
The second trials aircraft (J-3097) seen at Emmen AB in a heavy loads test configuration: four underwings pylons,
three 275 gallons tanks and red anti-collision Sidewinders on wingtips.

The Group, following restructuration of all Swiss defence agencies, was reorganised and renamed Armasuisse Aeronautical Systems as of 01-01-05. It acts as the procurement organisation at present responsible for the selection/introduction of a Tiger replacement.

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